Chief Minister Howard Quayle says he won’t trigger immediately the six-month notice period on the termination of the government’s current deal with Manx Gas.

Manx Gas has been told to come up with a new charging regime, to replace its unpopular system of different levels of tariff bands for different customers.

But Mr Quayle told the House of Keys on Tuesday he would not immediately give the six months’ notice on the current arrangement.

Rob Callister (Onchan) called upon Mr Quayle to start the countdown this week, but Mr Quayle said he would not.

The Chief Minister said: ’Negotiations will be started before notice is formally given, as it may take more than the six months’ notice that are allowed as a notice period to negotiate a new agreement.’

He cited the problems the UK Government was facing since it triggered Article 50 to start the Brexit process.

’They gave notice before they had their first eleven ready, their team ready to work on this, and are obviously struggling because the time period is running out,’ he said.

’We will be having pre-meetings with Manx Gas, so please do not think for one minute that we are not moving on this with haste.

’But it was felt that we would give notice when we have our first eleven ready to ensure that we are as well prepared to get the very best deal for the people of this Island who use Manx Gas.’

Earlier this month a government report called for talks to get underway with Manx Gas over a new voluntary agreement which would include a lower rate of return for the company. Under the current deal, agreed in 2015, Manx Gas can enjoy profits of up to 9.99%.

The report also called for an end to the banded standing charges for domestic customers and their replacement with a flat rate.

The banding system introduction in 2016 led to accusations from some customers that the system was unfair as they ended up with large bills in the summer, despite using hardly any gas.

Pre-empting the report, Manx Gas announced it was offering customers the chance to come off the banded standing charges and revert to the old system.

Despite initially indicating this would mean going to the lowest band of standing charges, the company has since said it could involve going to one of the higher bands.

At Tuesday’s sitting Mr Quayle was also asked to ensure Manx Gas did not try to pass off regulatory adjustments as price cuts. Rob Callister (Onchan) said such adjustments were ’technically refunds due to Manx Gas customers overpaying’.

Mr Quayle said he would be ’looking for that’.

He added: ’While the previous agreement was a step in the right direction, it did not go far enough and there needed to be a tightening of definitions and how the deal goes forward.

’We have got to improve it. That is why I am making sure it is done properly.’

Source: IoMToday